I still remember listening to my mom as she read aloud to me the final chapters of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. I was five years old, it was August and we were at the beach. The nights were balmy and breezy and quiet; the ocean and the clanging of buoys serving as background music to my mother’s voice. “We’ll start it again tomorrow,” she said through tears — hers and mine.
Over the years I have fallen in and out of love with books, authors and characters, but those memories of Charlotte, Wilbur, Templeton, Fern and everything else about E.B. White’s masterpiece made me a reader. When I finish a book that I love, regardless of theme, plot or character, the feeling is familiar and brings to mind that night at the beach when we finished Charlotte’s Web. Some may even come close to being as moving or as influential, but they will never be that special.
A few days later, my aunt and uncle visited us at the beach. Completely by coincidence, my aunt brought me a stuffed animal: a pig. ”What are going to name it?” My mom asked. ”Wilbur,” I said.Posted by Amanda | 24 Oct 2012 | Comments Off
On Monday, October 1st, Library Director, Sarah Lester, will facilitate the first session of the Dewey Nonfiction Book Club. Each month, the group will focus on one section of the library’s non-fiction collection, from the 000s to the 900s. After a brief examination of that month’s Dewey Decimal section, the group will discuss the featured title for the month.
In anticipation of this exiting new program, I took a moment to ask Sarah some questions about the book club — and books in general:
Amanda Eigen (AE): Why a nonfiction book club?
Sarah Lester (SL): I didn’t start out thinking nonfiction, but I wanted to start a book club at the library and I thought it would be interesting to focus on nonfiction, which is a rich portion of our collection. Using the Dewey Decimal System helps highlight each section. So, my thought is, this year do a Dewey book club and next year, do something else. I’d love to do a book club of books by local authors — we have so many talented authors in Maplewood. And I’d love to know what kinds of book clubs or other literary programs our patrons would like to see at the library.
AE: How did you choose the books for the Dewey Book Club?
SL: I talked to staff members and got suggestions. Some of the books are books I’ve wanted to read but, as we all have limited time, being a mom with a full time job, it gets hard. I get a lot of pleasure from reading with my children, but I also look forward to reading for myself.
AE: Is a good book automatically a good book club book?
SL: No, not every book is easy to talk about. Some lend themselves better to discussion. Our first book, The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma (Call # 028.9), is a book about books. In each chapter, Ozma discusses books she read with her dad and how they impacted her life. The best books can do that and those are the ones that are best for book clubs. It doesn’t matter if they’re fiction or nonfiction.
AE: How will this club differ from other book clubs you’ve led?
SL: Well, I’ve never led a nonfiction book club before. I’m a fiction reader so this is also expanding my my own reading. There might be more discussion of personal experience or current events.
AE: What do you hope participants will come away with?
SL: Hopefully they’ll come away with an enjoyment of the books we’ve selected, and an appreciation for our nonfiction collection. We have about 160,000 books in the library — it’s an impressive collection! We’ll only touch on a few of them, but I hope the book club will encourage people to delve more deeply.
AE: What draws you to a book — fiction or nonfiction?
SL: The writing.
AE: Do you have a favorite book?
SL: My favorite book that I’ve read this year is Richard Ford’s Canada. My lifelong favorite is The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers — both fiction!Posted by Amanda | 25 Sep 2012 | Comments Off
by Mallary Saltzman
Fortunately for us Alison Bechdel has had a life worth telling, and in her latest graphic novel, Are you My Mother?, she retells it with a vengeance. Are You My Mother? is Bechdel’s sequel to Fun Home, a graphic novel that focuses on life with her father, who was a high school English teacher, a funeral home director, husband, and a closeted gay man. Bechdel wrote Fun Home after her Father’s death and in it she explores her family relationships in a very frank and funny way.
Are You My Mother? continues her story and is in part about her relationship with her mother, who is very much alive and not at all happy with her daughter writing this book (“I just don’t know why everyone has to write about themselves,” she tells the author). But Bechdel also explores her relationships with other women — mainly her partners and her therapists, who have played maternal roles throughout her life. These explorations are both fascinating and fun, made more so by her use of observations of the 20th century psychoanalyst and pediatrician Donald Winnicott, whom the author has studied.
I enjoyed this story greatly. Though I thought Fun Home was better written, I think the illustrations in Are You My Mother are more evocative and tell her story just as well as her words.
If you like Are You My Mother, and graphic novels in general, I also recommend Fun Home, and Prinz award-winning American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang.Posted by Amanda | 12 Sep 2012 | Comments Off